music, videos

Old-school power trio: James Gang

You’ll occasionally catch some James Gang songs on the radio, but this live version of Walk Away shows just how ferocious Joe Walsh and company were before Joe joined the Eagles.

comedy, movies

Caddyshack – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Caddyshack – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Yes, everyone in Western civilization can hear the word “Caddyshack and immediately think of a few lines. But has anyone ever thought about what a strange film it is?

For one thing, it’s clear from reading the Wiki entry here — which is well-sourced with a few things available elsewhere — that the movie they envisioned on the first day of filming was nothing like the film they ended up with. Bits of that original concept exist. But Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray essentially took over, starting doing improv, and there you have it.

The result is almost a train wreck, a strange collection of sketches in which characters seem to be in two movies at once — one about caddies, one about a nasty conflict of snobs and slobs. They share a couple of characters but are otherwise disjointed, like the scenes in Pulp Fiction that intertwine but do little more.

The parts, thankfully, are far greater than the sum. A film about the caddies — Maggie of the wavering accent, the dude who says “Noonan,” Brian Doyle-Murray’s character — surely wouldn’t have been as well-remembered as the final product.

But the funny thing is that you have to root for the obnoxious people for any of this to succeed. In the film, you root for Dangerfield, though you wouldn’t want him behind you on an actual golf course. Behind the scenes, you’re also rooting for Dangerfield and the other comic geniuses who took over Harold Ramis’ film.

AMC often pairs this film with Blazing Saddles for some reason. Sure, they’re both packed with semi-relevant gags like a Family Guy episode (as I type, Sheriff Bart is greeting Count Basie for reasons that probably made sense to Richard Pryor when he was working on the screenplay). But Blazing Saddles is a well-crafted satire in which most of the events are related somehow.

To me, Caddyshack is a good collection of gags. Blazing Saddles is a work of art. Seriously.

music, philosophy

Bloc Party’s operatic themes

I haven’t been down lately — a little overworked, yes — but I’m still enjoying this downer of a tune from Bloc Party called Talons.

When people think of rock “opera,” they usually mean 20-minute songs. But this is operatic in style without demanding that the listener clear out a day to listen.

The most obvious interpretation of the song is a fable about AIDS, though that’s not necessarily the only interpretation. More broadly, it’s about guilt and death. The protagonist and his circle of friends have led entertaining but reckless lives, and they’re suffering the consequences.

What separates it artistically from the typical emo music is the change of moods. The verses are full of subdued regret. The chorus cries out against the same circumstances, dialing up the anguished self-loathing. “I have been wicked / I have been arrogant.”

The best part is the bridge, a final bit of defiance. “I didn’t think it would catch up as fast as I could have run,” they sing over a major key progression that sounds almost Wagnerian. Then they modulate back to the minor for the crushing line — “a new disease came in the post for me today.”

If you don’t buy all the aesthetic talk here, just know that it rocks. Enjoy.